Sri Lanka – Kandy – Hatton (Dalhousie / Nallathanniya) – Hatton

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View from
Udawatta Kele

After getting back to Kandy and grabbing lunch, we dumped stuff at the guesthouse and walked up to the Ceylon Tea Museum.  Lovely walk (albeit up hill) and good museum (800LKR each) and interesting guide around.  Free tea after (yuk) and tourist-price gift shop.  Was interesting, and worth the walk up, and worthy of a quick visit.  Not a must see, just nice.

With lots of the bustle of Kandy completed, we decided to tour the old Royal Gardens (Udawatta Kele) – which despite its location in the city, is totally quiet and calm. 

VW train at Kandy

Around 660 LKR entry it can take a few hours walking around the jungle/rain forest, and getting lost due to dead end paths, poor map and naff signs.  That said, we really enjoyed it – lovely trees and jungle views and mostly shaded from the heat.  Apparently lots of wild small mammals there,  wild boar, deer and “guaranteed sightings” of monkey troops.  As it was, we saw 2 birds, loads of turtles in the lake, and a couple of dogs.  Well worth a visit for a tranquil few hours.

View out of train. Who needs doors.

Out next stop was at  for a walk up Adams peak.  As ever, nothing is simple and googling Dalhousie gives limits results, you need to search for Nallathanniya to get meaningful google information – yet the busses are labelled Dalhousie.  Go figure.

Anyway, train from Kandy to Hatton was simple enough, 2nd class unreserved ticket gets you on, but the train is crammed and standing room only.   Go towards the far end of the platform (where the benches end) as that’s where the second class carriages were.  So we got on, stood, but in prime position to get a seat in around half hour.  The train ran late and slow, but pretty and interesting views throughout. 

At Hatton you need a bus for the 30km trip to Dalhousie.  Sadly, what other blogs omitted to say as you need to get the RED bus from outside the train station – that goes direct.  Though when I have no idea – the red busses had no drivers when we arrived.  So we walked to the bus station only to be told no direct busses, we need to change half way. (Someone did say get bus from train station but couldn’t be bothered to go back).  We weren’t on a schedule so got the bus and changed half way – simple enough but slow slow going – good 2hrs to make the 30km up – but the road is very very narrow and very very busy.

Chaos queue getting to the top

Dalhousie exists only for Adams Peak which is a climb of (apparently) 5,500 steps – and that’s generally a concrete path and around a 1000m climb (1250 to 2250m).  It has pilgrimage status so there are thousands of people doing it and loads of “special busses” bringing them in.  Some elderly or with kids, bare foot and with sticks.  So for them to get anywhere near the top is a feat, but it does mean lots just stop and rest and sit on steps (blocking path).  So a bit of chaos.

Misty sunrise over other hills

Arriving at the top to watch sunrise is the done thing, and the walk to the top would be maybe 2.5hrs without everyone else.  With sunrise at 6:20am we left at 2:15am (yes yes, stupid idea) but even then we were in a solid queue with 1km to go… Mel was feeling a bit rough and needed to go back to guesthouse (1.5hrs walk down) – there are loos along the way, but you really don’t want to…..   So after Mel left around 5am I pretty much took 1.5hrs to move 700m and got to around 50m to the summit and the queue stopped and progressed no more, so at 6:20 I opted to just go back down and tend to Mel. I reckon it’d have been 1-2hrs to get to the top, and then it’d be “solid” with people, and by then the sun would be well up.  Rather annoying.

Prayers at temple (aka litter pile….)

(On a Saturday/Sunday climb, leaving at 1am isn’t enough either!!!)

So a little disappointed, what views we got were great but we knew better were close by.  So near, but yet so far….  Damn.  Win some lose some.  Of course, you can be a rude and obnoxious cock, ignore the signs, and go up the down lane (getting in the way of those coming down, including semi-mobile people with sticks, oldies etc).   Being polite and British, I didn’t.  Still managed to get some good pics on the way down and worth the trip………  probably.

Walking back down

Getting from Dalhousie to Hatton was a “simple” bus again from the man bus station (not bus parking) – sitting there waiting for a red bus, but then being grabbed by a driver of a private bus assuring us it was direct to Hatton.  It wasn’t (of course!) but to be fair it was a stop, get on that bus, and go – and it seemed joined up.  So it was direct, just on two (linked) busses.  These only stop at Hatton bus station, so 10m walk to the train station, so if you can get a red bus then do so….

(PS – we ached for days after the walk!!! And we’re fit….)

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